Archives for December 5, 2014

Advent, art, and incarnational living

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I watched the film Good Will Hunting in four installments on the treadmill this week. I find Matt Damon and Ben Affleck suitable motivation to squeeze into spandex. I can’t remember the first time I saw the movie, but I recall a few specific lines leaping out at me from the screen when I first viewed it. Those same lines struck me once again with their power. I noticed other subtleties I missed the first time around, other moments that caught my breath with their beauty. And I don’t mean the beauty of Ben Affleck’s chiseled chin.

It reminds me of how great art doesn’t lose its potency with age. It still teases out the deeper truths, maybe even unearthing a few more as we grow alongside of it. Great art possesses a staying power, the kind of staying power we usually attribute to Kingdom work. And I think it is.

In her book Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle says true art is incarnational. God is revealed and made present to us through this art, whether the artist intended this or not. I don’t know what Damon and Affleck intended when they wrote their film, but redemption weaves its way like a ribbon throughout it. For me, this is what it means for art to be incarnational.

During this season of Advent, I find myself looking more closely for signs of God made flesh, for Emmanuel’s presence, God with us. I think of Christ in me, the hope of glory, and I wonder how I am bringing the truth of the incarnation to others. I hope it’s present in my writing–my art–but I also hope it’s present in the way I parent and love and live.

I don’t think there is any one way to live out the truth of the incarnation, just as there isn’t one way to create a thing of permanence and beauty. How I express Christ in me will look different than how you express Christ in you. As long as it’s rooted in the foundation of God’s word, this gives us incredible freedom. I’m just beginning to learn how this looks in my life and specifically in my art. I have so far to go in understanding what this means for me, and what kind of work I want to create.

As I ferret this out, I hope to continue consuming incarnational art and incarnational living when I see it present in others. Tell me, how are you living like a work of art, and carrying the hope of Christ in you?